BY LEONIE HELM
Set on the edge of the park, by Bethnal Green tube station, Chiringuito is a delightful spot to enjoy one of their newly available Sunday lunches, sip a sumptuous cocktail, and watch East London roll by.
Like a traditional roast, Chiringuito currently offer a choice of pork, beef, half a baby chicken or a vegan option of stuffed aubergine with vegan cheese, served with a vegetable gravy. Unlike a traditional roast, you won’t have to undo your top button and have a nap after you’ve finished licking the plate. Now, I like a stodgy, overloaded Sunday roast as much as the next person, but the delicacy of these dishes was a very welcome surprise.
I usually never order chicken in a restaurant, but the half a baby chicken, slow roasted pachamanca style with traditional Peruvian spices sounded too good to pass up. As there were two of us, I was also lucky enough to try the carne asada, slow cooked British rump with rosemary.
The chicken was perfectly cooked and bursting with flavour, the charred skin taking me right in to summer. The beef was incredibly tender and perfectly pink, and all Sunday dishes are served with crispy rosemary potatoes, honey roasted carrots, roasted courgette and broccoli and kale. All the vegetables were on the right side of crunchy and complemented the meat well, and the thick rich gravy was very conscientiously served on the side. Each dish has a suggested booze match and the Cune Reserva Rioja went well with the silky beef, and the creative choice of Loba Blanca, a Mexican wheat beer with a slightly tart after taste worked with the complex flavours of the chicken.
Although there was more than enough food on our plates, the meal wasn’t heavy which allowed for me to do something almost unprecedented after a Sunday roast. Usually, I can’t even face a coffee after a roast, but I was thrilled to discover that I had room for a cheese board. A very generous portion of Manchego and Luna Negra goats’ cheese arrived accompanied by quince paste, strawberries, crackers and grapes. I know arranging some cheese and crackers on a board doesn’t necessarily take much culinary skill, but the presentation was nice, the cheese delicious and I was having a lovely time.
Now, the cocktails, oh the cocktails. The extensive list of luxurious libations uses exotic ingredients such as fermented ginger, caramel, and home-made fig syrup. The Fig Old Fashioned was layered with a bitterness cut through by the fig syrup and the fiery Mucho Caliente was a heady mix of smoky mezcal, lime juice and a hint of coriander, served with a chilli on the rim. Both guaranteed to put a spring in your step.
The place has a very relaxed atmosphere, as though the staff would be perfectly happy for you spend a slow, lazy Sunday staring out the window and ordering the entire cocktail menu. The service is attentive and friendly without being overbearing, the view is great, and, in the summer, I will certainly be frequenting their heated roof terrace with park views and more fairy lights than is possibly safe. Make mine a margherita.
Museum Gardens, Cambridge Heath Road, London E2 9PA